Cellulose acetate: a chemical and artificial material. It is the result of a reaction between plants (often cotton*, which is very greedy for water, or even worse, replaced by polyester* or nylon*) mixed with acetic anhydride, acetic acid and sulphuric acid. PET* is the preferred alternative. Even though it is not a sustainable solution and gives off micro-particles of plastic when washed, using it for accessories such as glasses, for example, is less of a problem.
Acrylic: a chemical and synthetic material, not recyclable or biodegradable. The fibre is made from fossil fuels derived from petroleum, so it pollutes enormously from the moment it is produced because it is energy-intensive. It is a material that is harmful to the environment and to humans, and releases micro-plastics during washing. The alternative is organic or certified wool*.
Angora: a natural textile fibre of the Angora rabbit. In France, the hair is collected by combing 2 to 3 times a year during the moulting period. The problem is that China holds 90% of the Angora production where the rabbits are raised in horrible conditions, and there, the rabbits have their hair plucked every 3 months which generates atrocious suffering for the animal and most of them succumb to their injuries.
Cotton: a natural vegetable fibre. Cultivated in a tropical climate, it is mainly produced in China, India and the southern USA. Cotton is the largest consumer of water on the planet, and its cultivation requires a large quantity of fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides. The process of transforming the fibre into fabric requires many steps, which explodes its carbon footprint. In addition, in order to soften and/or dye the fibre, numerous chemical treatments are necessary. Organic and/or certified* cotton is therefore preferred.
Chemical tanned leather: Animal leather is normally a by-product of the meat industry. However, some industries raise animals for the sole purpose of producing leather. In addition to the potential for animal abuse, animal husbandry uses a lot of water and is responsible for 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, chemical tanning (which makes the skin stronger and more durable over time) involves the use of chemical solvents that are harmful to the planet and poison the air and waterways. This process is also harmful to the people who handle it. The alternative of vegetable tanned leather* is preferred.
Elastane (also called spandex or Lycra (registered trademark)): a synthetic chemical material based on polyurethane (a molecule derived from petroleum). Its spinning is based on a complex method consisting of chemical reactions. This fibre is a derivative of petroleum and therefore poses a problem for the environment. It requires a significant consumption of natural energy resources. It also requires solvents and chemicals that are harmful to humans and the planet for its transformation. Elastane releases microplastics when washed, which then end up in the ecosystem of our oceans. The industry is still looking for an alternative. In the meantime, we prefer the recycled version.
Fur: animal material. Animal skin with its hair attached, prepared for use as clothing, lining or ornament. At KAP we simply say no to animal farming that pollutes the environment and no to cruelty to animals.
Nylon: a synthetic chemical material (polyamide plastic). Nylon is a polluting material because it is derived from petroleum, and its manufacturing process is extremely energy-consuming. It releases microplastics during washing which end up in our ocean ecosystems. Nylon does not have a viable alternative, but we still prefer its recycled version.
Polyamide: a synthetic material produced by the petrochemical industry. Polyamides are plastics produced by the chemical industry from oil or coal. Its production is polluting, energy-consuming and requires large quantities of water. An alternative, such as EconylⓇ*, made from recycled and recyclable nylon fibre, is more environmentally friendly.
Polyester: synthetic fibre produced from petroleum. Non-renewable, it should be banned because it is dangerous for the planet and for people. Moreover, it releases micro-plastics each time it is washed, which then end up in the oceans. Recycling polyester has its limits and does not solve the problem of the release of microplastics into the oceans and now into our bodies. Alternatives such as hemp*, Lyocell* (or TencelⓇ*) or EconylⓇ* are preferred.
Silk: a natural protein fibre derived either from bombyx butterflies which produce cultured silk, or from free-ranging caterpillars which produce wild silk. The caterpillar spins a cocoon in which it will transform into a butterfly. Before the cocoon appears and emerges, it is smothered with water vapour or poisonous gas. The thread can then be recovered. At first glance, this material might seem environmentally friendly because it is natural, biodegradable and renewable. However, like all intensive farming, silkworm rearing has a negative ecological impact. It involves the use of chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers, which are harmful to the planet, but also to the workers. It also puts animal welfare at risk, as the recovery of the silk requires smothering the cocoons in ovens at 80°C. After treating the worms with antibiotics and hormones, they are scalded to kill the chrysalis without damaging the cocoon, which requires a lot of hot water. Lyocell (or TencelⓇ)* is preferred as an alternative.
Viscose: an artificial chemical material made from fatty wood shavings or wood pulp soaked in soda (sodium hydroxide). Viscose is often considered to be environmentally friendly because it is derived from natural plant fibres (cotton, bamboo or eucalyptus) but its chemical conversion denatures it and is polluting because the cultivation of its plants requires the use of pesticides and insecticides. The chemicals used to transform the fibre are harmful to humans and disturb our ecosystems. An alternative such as Lyocell* (or TencelⓇ*) is therefore preferred.